Posted: July 10, 2020
Summary: When tested with an XRF instrument, the dish pictured here had the readings listed below. ALL FRANCISCAN POTTERIES pieces I have EVER TESTED have had a similarly high level of Lead. They also normally leach Lead when tested in a lab. In the absence of testing your particular set for the leaching of Lead, functional dishware and other pottery pieces from this brand (from any year of manufacture or location of manufacture) should not, under any circumstances, be considered safe to eat from for any purposes (not occasional holiday dinners nor regular daily meals).
Introduction: Tamara Rubin is an independent advocate for consumer goods safety, and she is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. She began testing consumer goods for metallic toxicants in 2009 and was the parent advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. She uses high-precision XRF testing (a scientific method used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for metallic contaminants – including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, and Arsenic.
How much Lead is too much Lead?
There is no total content limit for total measurable Lead (as detectable and measured with an XRF instrument) in modern dishware. Limits have only been set for the total amount of any detectable Lead that is leaching at the time of manufacture – as measured by leach-testing (normally done in a laboratory setting). However – for context – for modern items intended for use by children to be legal (and not subject to recall), the paint, glaze, or coating of these items needs to be below 90 ppm Lead, and the substrate of the item needs to fall below 100 ppm Lead when tested. These dishes test positive for more than 80,000 ppm Lead in the exterior glaze on the food surface of the dish.
If this dish were made today and specifically marketed to kids and considered to be “intended to be used by children,” it would be illegal. However, dishes are quixotically not considered to be “items intended to be used by children” and, as such, are not regulated in this way. It is my opinion that they should be — that is, they should be regulated in this way AND they should be required to always test either negative or at least below 90 ppm Lead — as dishes (and kitchen appliances) generally are in fact used by children. I consider dishes and kitchenware that test positive for Lead at levels below 90 ppm to be “Lead-safe.” Note: my personal preference is to have all of the items in my own kitchen be 100% Lead-free – not just “Lead safe.”
Food surface of the dish pictured
- Lead (Pb): 80,300 +/- 4,100 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 421 +/- 117 ppm
- Zirconium (Zr): 17,200 +/- 1,000 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 14,100 +/- 600 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 337 +/- 85 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 1,389 +/- 283 ppm
Back side (logo area) of the dish pictured
- Lead (Pb): 83,900 +/- 4,500 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 400 +/- 125 ppm
- Zirconium (Zr): 18,400 +/- 1,200 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 15,600 +/- 800 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 290 +/- 87 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 1,360 +/- 301 ppm
Some additional reading that may be of interest to you:
- Click here to see all of the Franciscan pieces I have tested and reported on here on the blog.
- Click here to read more about the concern for Lead in functional dishware.
- Click here to read more about the testing methodologies I use and report on here on my blog.
- Click here to learn why you cannot normally test your dishes at home (with a Lead test kit for consumers that you might buy in the store).
- Sometimes (but not always) Franciscan pottery may test positive with a reactive agent home test kit. Here’s my Amazon affiliate link* to the kits I find most reliable and most user-friendly.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
*Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase something after clicking on one of my links I may receive a small percentage of what you spend at no extra cost to you.